Re: Writing is an innate talent

Subject: Re: Writing is an innate talent
From: Ed Hoornaert <Ed -dot- Hoornaert -at- VENTANA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 13:04:55 -0700

Arlen wrote,

>Those with an aptitude for the game (chess) typically rise to the
>top 5% (an exclusive club numbering in the low thousands in this
>country) within 5-10 years. In my case, after 15-20 years, I've
>fought my way into the top 20% (a not-so exclusive club numbering
>in the thousands, even tens of thousands)... Unless, of course
>you're arguing that one needs to be better than more than 80%
>of the people practicing a given skill before one can be called
>good at it.

Yes, I think you've pinpointed the different assumptions that underlie
our apparent disagreement. This discussion started in connection with
whether engineers could learn to write; one of my assumptions was that
this meant "learn to write professionally." Being in the top 20% of all
people who write (business memos, letters to mom, grocery lists, etc.) is
NOT a professional level. Not even close. The people on this list are,
sort of by definition, in the top 5% that you mentioned. Probably a much
smaller percentage. And that kind of success, IMHO, requires talent --
as well as a *lot* of effort.

Ed -dot- Hoornaert -at- Ventana -dot- com
Disclaimer: Ventana Corporation should not be held responsible for my big

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